Members of the hiking community around Mount Sunapee put their enthusiasm for a popular trail to Lake Solitude to work and quickly helped the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests (Forest Society) raise funds to conserve the property where the trail begins.
The Forest Society purchased the 33-acre trailhead property, off Mountain Road in Newbury, to protect access to the Andrew Brook Trail, said Jane Difley, the Forest Society’s president/forester.
“So many people who love this trail assumed that the trailhead was part of Mount Sunapee State Park, but in fact it was privately owned and therefore vulnerable when it came up for sale,” Difley said. “Now that the Forest Society owns it, public access is protected, and we want to thank the fans of this trail for helping to secure it.”
The Andrew Brook Trail is a 2-mile ascent up Andrew Brook on the eastern side of Mt. Sunapee to Lake Solitude, a pristine pond surrounded by conifers. It then meets up with other trails leading to the scenic White Ledges area and to Mount Sunapee’s peak.
The opportunity to save the trailhead property resonated in the community, said Midge Eliassen, a member of the Sunapee Women’s Adventure Group, whose members supported the project.
We think of it as one of our most special places. We know our grandparents took picnic hikes and sleepover fishing trips to Solitude. We have introduced our grandchildren to the rewards at the end of the trail: the huge old birch, the quiet, beautiful lake, and the long views from the rocky cliffs over the lake. No one wanted to take a chance that the property would pass into private hands and access via the trail, along the brook and past the giant erratic boulders, might be closed off. – Midge Eliassen
Support also came from the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway (SRKG), Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway, Friends of Mount Sunapee, Lake Sunapee Protective Association, Cardigan Highlander Volunteers, the Newbury Conservation Commission, individuals and family foundations.
The Forest Society’s conservation efforts on Mount Sunapee date back to 1911 when the organization conserved its first property in the area. In 1947, the organization transferred more than 2,100 acres to the State of New Hampshire to be run as Mount Sunapee State Park.
In 2006, the Forest Society led a campaign to conserve 1,100 acres of land on the eastern slope of Mount Sunapee adjacent to the state park. An easement there protects the middle section of the Andrew Brook Trail. In 2010 the Goubert family of Sunapee donated 75 acres of land next to the newly purchased 33-acre property. Both will now be called the Andrew Brook Forest Reservation.
The Andrew Brook Trail and others in the vicinity have been maintained for decades by the Cardigan Highlanders Volunteer Trail Crew. Crew leader Craig Sanborn said the group has adopted the trail and makes sure the path is clear, well marked and well drained. Anyone interested in volunteering to help maintain the trail can contact Carrie Deegan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[posted February 17, 2016]